As a horse owner, one of the most tedious jobs is cleaning out the stable. In a matter of hours, the stable can reek from the straw bedding that’s used as the horses’ home (and bathroom). For the owners and their animals, this is not just a matter of “bad smell”. If the cleaning isn’t done diligently, these odors and the resulting dust could expose them to ammonia and other respiratory issues.
If you’ve ever owned a pet hamster, you can relate to this as well. You set up the hamster’s home by laying down wood chips or straws, only to find out how quickly it turns nasty. It was probably one of the more annoying parts of owning and taking care of one.
Animal bedding is needed for a wide range of animals, ranging from horses, and chickens to even snakes. Traditionally, pine and straw have been the popular materials used for these beddings. But a startup is now offering a superior alternative.
Dominion Hemp, a hemp bedding startup based out of Virginia, is looking to improve the quality of bedding materials by using hemp. Simply put, hemp offers much more absorbent, longer-lasting, and more sustainable bedding than straw or pine.
Hi Marty. Excited to learn more about Dominion Hemp! Could you tell us a bit about the company? What do you guys do and where are you based?
Marty Phipps: Dominion Hemp specializes in hemp bedding for equine (horse) and small animals. We started the company with the goal to show the public, specifically farmers, that industrial hemp has many agricultural uses. Our company was founded in Charlottesville, Virginia, where we’re located less than 5 miles from the home of Thomas Jefferson – who we like to call the Founding Father of Hemp.
We now serve customers nationwide. Recently, we’ve gotten a lot of interest from states such as Minnesota, Indiana, and Colorado, and we’re even looking to send a package over to Alaska.
Specifically, what animals require this type of bedding?
MP: We currently serve animals such as horses, chickens, lambs, ducks, peacocks, mice, cats, and snakes. Any animal that requires bedding will benefit from this material.
Using hemp as animal bedding is a novel application for many of us. Could you tell us a bit more about what advantages hemp brings as a bedding material?
MP: The benefits of hemp bedding are seemingly endless. Hemp is extremely absorbent as it can hold 4X its own weight, and lasts much longer than pine or straw bedding. Hemp bedding is very low in dust, which is great for horses with respiratory issues. It also reduces odor better than straw or wood shavings. This is great for chicken owners, who often incur ammonia from the chicken scat. Hemp bedding is very economical for farmers, as it lasts longer and reduces the product's loss to waste. This, in turn, saves the consumer money. Lastly, hemp bedding is completely biodegradable, whereas, pine can have a high acidity and “burn” fields, Hemp naturally decomposes into the earth. Our clients are actually mixing their hemp manure with seed and returning it to their fields.